Wildlife in Central Park

How can you protect Central Park’s many different species of wildlife? It’s simple...Don’t feed them human food and clean up your trash.

We all love Central Park’s wildlife, and it’s up to us to protect them. Unfortunately, even the best intentions—like offering them bread, crackers, or other human food—or forgetting to throw out your trash can cause harm. How can you do your part in the Park? Here are some helpful tips:

  • DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE. Human food can cause disease and death in ducks, geese, turtles, and other wildlife. The Central Park Conservancy makes sure the Park’s habitats provide enough natural food sources for animals to survive without help.
  • CLEAN UP YOUR TRASH, INCLUDING FISHING GEAR. Fishing line, hooks, plastic bags, and other trash can seriously injure wildlife. There are receptacles throughout the landscape for discarding fishing gear, as well as regular trash and recycling bins.
  • KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Do not approach, harass, or touch wildlife. It is dangerous to both you and the animal.

If you find a sick or injured animal, contact the Urban Park Rangers via 311.

A goose tangled in fishing gear. A goose's foot impaled by a fishing hook. A goose's leg with a deep laceration caused by fishing line. Goose thread

Wildlife can become entangled in discarded fishing line and impaled by hooks. Please retrieve broken line and lures, deposit in a trash receptacle, or take with you out of the Park.

Love Animals? Learn More About Their Wellbeing & Habitat

Some New Yorkers think it, but a TRUE New Yorker just says it. Our kid correspondent, Harper, is here to help you remember how to be a friend to the animals on your next Park outing.

Why is there no need to feed? The Central Park Conservancy staff keeps Central Park’s complex ecosystem healthy and thriving—and it’s all about determining the ecological “best fit!” Hear from our Assistant Manager of Natural Areas, Lisa, and learn how the Conservancy’s Natural Areas team works to increase biodiversity in this urban greenspace.

Harlem Meer 20200725 IMG 0031

“It’s as if you’re feeding these animals Twinkies all day.”

Common items like bread, rice, cereal, and crackers are dangerously unhealthy for Central Park’s wildlife. Pizza rat may have gone viral, but feeding wild animals causes malnutrition, disease, an unnatural and potentially harmful trust in humans, and loss of their instinct to forage and hunt. Learn more on our magazine.

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